Jennifer Cruz could not stop smiling.
She held in her hand the newest addition to the growing Cruz family - Scotty, a 6-month-old tuxedo-marked cat she adopted at the Columbia County Humane Society's Feline Friday Night at Petsmarton Friday evening.
While living with family members in New York recently, Cruz was forced to get rid of two of her three cats because of a family member's allergies. Now, Cruz lives in Augusta with her 10-month-old son, Matthew, and husband, Emilio. The Cruz family just got a 10-week-old Rottweiler puppy, but Mrs. Cruz missed her cats.
Columbia County Humane Society upcoming events:
What: Rabies Clinic
When: Saturday, Oct. 26
Where: Blanchard Park, Dewey Drive off Belair Road
Cost: $5 per shot
For more information: Call the humane society at (706) 860-5020
What: Pet Photos with Santa Claus
When: Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 2-3, 9-10 and 16-17
Where: Pestmart, Robert C. Daniel Parkway
Cost: $9.95 per photo
For more information: Call the humane society at (706) 860-5020 or Petsmart at (706) 738-0414
"There is just something about cats," she said. "They lay with you and cuddle with you."
The special Friday event was the humane society's kickoff for the weekly adoptions Saturdays and Sundays for the beginning of the annual Adoption Weekend.
The focus was on felines because the human society recently rescued a lot of cats and kittens from animal control, where they would eventually be put to sleep.
During the weekend, the humane society placed 20 animals in new homes.
"That was a good weekend," said Donna Evans, the humane society president.
Currently the humane society is at capacity. Since there are no shelters or facilities, the almost 70 animals are fostered by society volunteers, who provide all food and supplies for the animals, said Barbara Gleitsmann, volunteer and foster home for cats and kittens. The humane society gets no tax support, but does cover the medical expenses, shots and spaying or neutering for the animals.
"It is a tremendous commitment, not just time and emotionally, but financially as well," Gleitsmann said. "I am not tooting my horn. All of us do it because we want to. It is a big commitment."
All pets adopted from the humane society have all shots for their age and are spayed or neutered, which is required by law for animals over 6 months old. Animals that are adopted before maturity are required to be spayed or neutered within 30 days of maturity.
Over a 10-day period in the spring - kitten season, Gleitsmann called it - the humane society rescued 33 cats and kittens from animal control. Many litters are simply dropped off there or at veterinarians' offices.
"They would all have probably been put down," Gleitsmann said. "Not only were those rescued, but those animals will never reproduce."
Most animals fostered by the humane society are rescued from animal control.The humane society tries to help individuals who find an animal in need of a home or help if they have room to take the animal. However, the society does have to turn people away.
"One of the ways we try to do that is to encourage them to contact other groups or if they can seek out some medical care and continue to foster, we will help place the animal through our adoption program," Gleitsmann said. "That is one way we support the public as well."
To be placed in a home by the humane society, the animal must have been wormed twice, have had two sets of shots (puppies and kittens) and have approval through the president to bring it to Petsmart for adoption.
Many of the volunteers spend weekends at Petsmart running the adoption program. Normal hours are from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays.
"I place every animal I get," Gleitsmann said. "Sometimes it is quickly. Sometimes it is a little more work. But that is what we are in this for."
All potential adoptive families are well-screened before the pet goes home to make sure all will be happy and safe with the pairing. For puppies and dogs, the family must have a fenced-in yard. Kittens and cats must be kept indoors. In cases of animals with special needs, the pet's potential home is inspected by a humane society volunteer.
"We expect it to be a lifetime commitment," Gleitsmann said. "This is our commitment to the animals. That is my commitment to the animal. I want this to be the best match for the animal and for the family. "
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